EXPERTS in the international language of Esperanto were impressed by their first visit to a pilot project at Marown Primary School.
Marown is one of only four schools in the British Isles and the only one in the Isle of Man teaching the language, which mixes elements of several European tongues.
Since September, 100 pupils in years three to six have spent a few hours each week following a course called Springboard to Languages with teacher and Esperanto speaker Pat Burgess.
After only eight months, they were able to speak the language to Springboard representatives David Kelso and Angela Tellier, who are travelling around the British Isles to check on progress in all four schools.
Head teacher Carol Maddrell said the pair, based at Manchester University, set the children an informal test in the form of a quiz and were extremely impressed at their quick progress.
She said: 'They were absolutely amazed at what the children were doing, and that they were able to have a conversation in Esperanto with an eight-year-old.'
Miss Maddrell said the experts were keen to send colleagues to the school as an example of what could be achieved through the course.
She has already arranged for Esperanto lessons to continue in the next academic year in September.
Esperanto was created in the 1880s in the hope it would serve as a universal second language to foster peace and international understanding. There are about 1,000 fluent Esperanto speakers in the world and up to two million people can speak it to some degree.
Mrs Burgess said it gave youngsters a solid foundation for learning other national languages and, because it encourages speakers to think in ideas rather than words, can avoid awkward translations.
She added: 'Esperanto teaches respect for others, their countries and languages.
'It shows that no language has superiority over another and that everyone can communicate, regardless of country or language, through Esperanto.'